Governance in Developing Asia
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Governance in Developing Asia

Public Service Delivery and Empowerment

Edited by Anil B. Deolalikar, Shikha Jha and Pilipinas F. Quising

Governance in Developing Asia is one of the first books of its kind to provide an overview of the role that better governance and citizen empowerment can play in improving public service delivery in developing Asia. The World Development Report 2004 set a framework for public service delivery in terms of the short and long roads to accountability of service providers to citizens. More than a decade on, this important book revisits the issue and departs from the WDR framework, highlighting its shortcomings and offering alternative solutions. The contributors present fresh evidence on the relationship between governance and development outcomes, including growth and indicators of living standards. They argue that the Asia-Pacific region must do better in delivering essential public services if it wishes to continue improving the quality of life for millions of its people. They show how the quantity and quality of public services in a country can be improved if the government actively solicits citizen involvement in service delivery.
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Chapter 8: Improving service delivery through decentralization

Giorgio Brosio


Asian countries present practically every conceivable model of decentralized governance. They range from de jure federal systems, such as India and Pakistan, to de facto quasi-federal systems, such as the People’s Republic of China (PRC). They cover regional systems—Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines—unitary systems, as in the Republic of Korea, and partly or mostly deconcentrated systems: Thailand in the former and Cambodia and Viet Nam in the latter case. Countries also vary considerably in the usual indicators of fiscal decentralization, such as the share of general government expenditure made at the subnational level, as can be observed in Table 8.1. By this measure, the PRC would appear the most decentralized country in the world, with more than 70 percent made at that level; in Nepal, subnational expenditure is barely 9 percent of total government spending. India and the PRC, alone, each present a very complex system of intergovernmental relations that is impossible to evaluate in a single chapter. Each Indian state and each province in the PRC has thousands of lower-level government units, and each Indian state and each province in the PRC has developed a distinct system (formally in India under the panchayati raj system of local government reform and less formally in the PRC).

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